CAMDEN COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) - Two Camden County High School students died and two other teenagers sustained injuries in a car crash on U.S. Route 158 near Country Club Road Saturday night.
North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper P. A. Logsdon said all four teens were going west on Route 158 in a Ford Mustang around 10:30 p.m. when the driver lost control and swerved into the path of an oncoming Chevrolet Suburban.
The accident ejected the three passengers in the Mustang. Medics pronounced one of the teens dead at the scene and doctors at Albemarle Hospital pronounced the second teen deceased a short time later, Logsdon said.
Logsdon identified the deceased as Denzel Najee Hicks, 18, and Jeremy Kindall McPherson, 16.
"Jeremy, sweetest kid. We had algebra 2 class together and we sat behind each other and always had a smile on his face. That boy just cracked me up," said Taylor McGuire, a senior at Camden County High School.
Friends say Jeremy transformed from fun to focused whenever he hit the Bruins football field. Denzel Hicks was a senior.
"Denzel, he's just the greatest guy you'll ever meet. His smile, just the best person you'll ever meet. He was a really cool guy," said Marcus Joyner who is a freshman at Camden County High School.
The 18-year-old participated in the Coast Guard Junior Leadership program. Friends say he wanted to be a Marine.
Monday, it was tough to make-out the back seat of the Mustang that sustained so much damage is the crash, but that is where State Police say McPherson and Hicks sat late Saturday night when their friend, Demetre Brooks, lost control on highway 158 and swerved into oncoming traffic directly in front of an SUV.
"Later that night I got another text that said Jeremy was killed and so was Denzel and big Steve was hurt," said friend, Jacob Berry.
Investigators say Hicks, McPherson, and McPherson's 17-year-old brother did not have their seatbelts on when they were thrown from the car. Family members of Jacob Berry were in the SUV.
"It's just hard to see all of my family going through what they have and then all of my friends just crying. It was bad."
The Nightingale Air Ambulance flew the front seat passenger, 17-year-old Steven McPherson to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital with life-threatening injuries. He was listed in fair condition as of Monday morning.
Medics took the driver of the Mustang, 18-year-old Demetre O. Brooks, to a local hospital with non-critical injuries. Berry said Brooks, a senior, scored the last touchdown of the 2012 football season.
McPherson, also a senior, used to play football for Camden, but opted out his last season.
Neither speed nor alcohol were factors in the accident, Logsdon said. All four people inside the SUV were treated and released from a local hospital.
Taylor McGuire, said she couldn't go to school today. It was too painful for her to walk in knowing two of her friends will never return, another is in the hospital, and a fourth, Brooks, is hurting in a way few can imagine.
"We're here for him and that's what he needs the most right now is friends."
It was a difficult day for students, faculty and staff at Camden County High School.
"It's not a typical day. There's no right or wrong way to handle it," said Principal Billie Berry.
Billie Berry had a busy day helping to organize grief counselors, helping set up school memorials, and helping students cope.
"These are students that know each other very, very well and even as the principal and their teachers, we know these students very, very well and sometimes that helps, you know, some of these students, they're involved in athletics, so they have very strong relationships with their coaches or ROTC, or any number of clubs, or organizations we have throughout the school. Those club advisers and coaches, they've become invaluable resources during times like this. We've had youth pastors come in and speak to our students and help with grief and in terms of what do you say? That's a great question. There is no perfect thing to say to young people, many of which are dealing with this type of hardship for the first time in their life particularly with the death of a young person."
Berry says he and his staff will be there for students and the families of the victims for as long as they need it.
"We offer support. We offer love. No one gets into this business without...caring for young people. So, I think that sort of caring atmosphere created by our teachers and those who are helping goes a long, long way with our students."
Jacob Berry played basketball with Jeremy McPherson and he keeps thinking of one moment, years ago, when he realized how truly "amazing" he was.
"In first grade, another one of my friends had cancer and Jeremy, on Fridays, would always take his money out and give it to the boy so he could buy something to eat. So, he'd starve for another kid. We need more kids like him in the world."
McGuire says she wants everyone involved in the accident to know she, as well as her family and friends, are always
thinking of them.
"I just want everyone just to pray for them, their family, you know, the people involved in the other accident, we're all praying for you. Once a Bruin always a Bruin, like, we're behind you 100% and I'm going to miss seeing those smiles everyday. To the families, just keep your head up and know that everyone is praying for you," said McGuire.
If you would like to make a donation to the Hicks and McPherson families, the Student Government Association is accepting donations at Camden High School. Those wishing to give can also mail checks to Camden County High School; make the check out to Camden County HS and in the memo mark what it is for.
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